• REUTERS

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Taiwan on Wednesday welcomed the first delegation from the European Parliament to visit the island, calling the trip significant and its latest move toward stronger ties with Europe amid heightened tensions between Taipei and Beijing.

Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory and has not ruled out taking by force, does not have formal diplomatic relations with any European countries apart from Vatican City. But the island is keen to deepen ties with European Union democracies.

In a statement, the foreign ministry said it was “the first official delegation dispatched by the European Parliament to Taiwan in history, which is of great significance.”

The delegation, led by French Member of the European Parliament Raphael Glucksmann, will discuss with Taiwan officials complex threats including disinformation and cyber attacks, the ministry added.

The three-day visit was organized by a European Parliament committee on foreign interference, such as disinformation, in democratic processes.

Taiwan’s Presidential Office said in a statement the government will share with the delegation experiences in dealing with challenges including “foreign infiltration.”

“The experience of Taiwan in addressing repeated and sophisticated attacks through the mobilization of its whole society, and without restricting its democracy, is unique,” Glucksmann said in a statement before departing for Taiwan.

President Tsai Ing-wen has warned of increasing Chinese efforts to gain influence in the democratic island, and has asked security agencies to counter the infiltration efforts.

The EU lawmakers’ visit comes after Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu made a rare trip to Europe last month that angered Beijing, which warned the host countries against undermining their bilateral relations with China.

The European Parliament last month adopted a nonbinding resolution to deepen ties with Taiwan, including looking into a bilateral investment agreement.

The delegation will meet Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang later Wednesday before a meeting with Tsai on Thursday.

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